Arthur Ibekwe Izuakor, a Nigerian based in Malta, Europe has leveraged technology to develop some household equipment, which he said would not only help reduce the stress people go through during manual laundry, but also saves time. In this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, Editor, he spoke about the motivation for the production of the washing device; the level of acceptance of the product, Liberal Washer; why he chose China as production point, among others. Excerpts:
For the sake of our readers, we would like you to properly introduce yourself?
My name is Arthur Ibekwe Izuakor, born 58 years ago, in Lagos, Nigeria. My Primary School Days was St John’s Anglican, in Ajegunle; followed by my Secondary School Education at Awori Ajeromi Grammar school, Agboju,1982. I went straight to Yaba College of technology where I obtained my ND and HND in Business Administration and Management.
My Youth Service was in Kano State and during that service year, I was decorated with the best outstanding Youth Corper for the service year 1989/90. My reward was an automatic teaching employment at the Government Secondary School, Dambatta. I resigned this employment in 1992 and left for Malta almost immediately, where I have been resident most of the time though I spent about six years in Manchester UK, which was where the inspiration for the washing device first came to me. Growing up, I was always creative. Building and painting just about anything! I recall making a TV aerial using Fluorescent Tubes, doing lettering for my mother’s Kiosk advert, making cars from wooden boxes, and all those street activities of the young kids in that era.
In Malta this trait helped me a lot and today I am a multi-skilled DIY person. I can lay Bricks, tiles, paint, plaster houses, fix steels for concrete in buildings. I am also a trained chef with NVQ ½ certifications. I actually can learn any trade I put my mind on. My early days in Malta also saw me doing short Courses in Marketing, Supervisory Skills and various academic pursuits as I pushed to make my life better. I am married to a Maltese Lady and we have three Kids.
Technology has made life easier. Tasks that used to be tedious in days gone by are no longer so nowadays. May we know how this applies to what you do for a living?
Currently, I am a cab, driver. In my previous jobs, I had enjoyed technology and appreciated it as it made jobs easier in the kitchen we had equipment that make cooking much fun stuff; in the building trade, we had steel Bending Machines that I never saw before, thus forming steel for columns and beams was very easy. My job as a cab driver for Uber and Bolt have also seen technology change the way people order taxis, through the use of the apps on their phones as against the old hailing style by the road side.
You invented a device to lessen the pain people go through during washing. Could you please take us through that invention- what it is, and how it does what it does?
In order to objectively evaluate the validity of this project, one has to have a good understanding of the problem currently being faced by the people for which the product is intended. In many of the underdeveloped countries around the world, where water is a premium and electricity is either not available or very unstable, or people have chosen to live off grid; doing laundry without electricity will usually entail bringing their clothes down to the river, creek, or water holes and vigorously scrubbing their clothes until they are clean.
It is time-consuming, tiring, and just downright awful. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore! There are a few washing machines on the market now that do not require electricity to run and still manage to keep your clothes clean and fresh. However, the Liberal WASHER, is the best designed low cost, easy to use manually operated family washing equipment and the most adequate alternative solution to Hand washing. The “LIBERAL WASHER” That I am introducing to you is equally Manually Operated Non-Electronic Laundry Device that launders clothes just by swishing the pendulum agitator back and forth for a few minutes and a normal load is done. The washer is aimed at easing the drudgery of domestic daily laundering where electricity and washing machines are not readily available, and perhaps as a supplement to any existing electronic machine. It washes through the combination of abrasion, oscillation, water and a good washing detergent.
The triangular enhanced agitator inside the receptacle, through its pendulum Motion pushes the clothes with the help of the washing Liquid against the ribbed belly of the receptacle. This motion is very effortless due to the clever integration of heavy-duty stainless-steel bearings, on either side of the tank (Receptacle).
It seems it is a manual form of technology different from electricity-powered washing machine. So, if people will still use their hands to squeeze and rinse; why should they go for Liberal Washer?
The equipment is a Manual home appliance and not an automatic or semi. It is a technology developed to reduce the labour hours spent doing domestic laundry. A physical wringing of the washed clothes, to squeeze out water is really the least worry of anyone who have just saved his back and waist from stress, saved time, Money and water. Without the washer, the laundry would have been done by hand anyway. In Comparison to hand washing, the liberal washer brings the washing home in lesser time and it washes well and better.
Kindly take us through the process of usage- that is, how the machine works?
The washing device is comprised of three parts, a containment section or receptacle, (a Polypropylene Drum, reinforced with Fibre glass raisin), with finger like ridges unto which the clothes will rub against. This Drum holds the water and detergent with a drain tap underneath to ease off dirty water; a Stainless-steel agitator that oscillates and agitates the clothes in the water thus loosens the dirt. This agitator arm is attached to the receptacle by yet another stainless-steel shaft anchored to a bearing. The bearing makes it very easy to agitate the clothes. Finally, the receptacle sits on a custom-made X Frame, foldable legs; which means one can dismantle the washer after washing. I have explained how it works in answer to Question 3.
What are the advantages of using your product over other devices serving the same purpose or (let’s put it this way), what are the selling points of your product?
Indeed, there have been attempts by other like-minded people to take advantage of this niche within the laundry market but they have all come short of what my Liberal washer is offering. The benefits to these types of washing machines are numerous, including,reduced Back strain on the user; time saving and cleaner washing; a more economical use of water; can be used for a small-scale launderette business; can generate employment through assembling; affordable and long lasting because it is a plastic/fibre glass product, and saves on electricity bills. Others are, for the agent/investor, a mouth-watering investment; it can be dismantled and used anywhere one wants; it is incredibly easy to use, thanks to the heavy-duty bearings on either side of the equipment. The equipment is calculated to be able to do a 4kg/5kg load of washing at a time. It is not a replacement for the electric machine; rather it is a better alternative for those who do manual laundry either as a business or for family hygiene.
You know, one major area of constraints is funds to procure such devices. Do you have facility from bank or through personal savings? How affordable is the product?
I do not have any funding yet and I am hoping that this article might agitate some investor to ask more questions and come on board. I am also offering a partnership through franchising rights to any interested party. I have put in as much as is needed personally over the years and the position now is just production. The equipment is indeed very affordable, durable and it will save the owner lots of money too in the long run. Imagine the savings on electricity and the convenience of washing from start to finish without disruptions from electricity.
You are based in Malta, Europe; where you are producing the machines. What is your target market; Africa and other Third World?
Yes. I am based in Malta, but the production is going to be in China for the obvious reasons which include cost of production, ease of material sourcing, access to better technology and technicians who understand the concept. The other reason is because my target market is worldwide.
Do you have a plan to relocate back to Nigeria to produce the product here or you will be moving finished products from your base, on demand?
Like I said above, the target market is worldwide so production in Nigeria for now is not a possibility. China has a comparative advantage as I had said earlier. The equipment will be produced semi-finished as minimal assembly will be required and thus jobs will be created.
What do you think might be your challenge manufacturing in Nigeria?
The receptacle or drum requires a large mould injection machine; the other accessories will be sought and brought into Nigeria. It will not be a wise financial decision. Not practical. The Chinese have arrays of computer engineers and soft wares, put together; they will bring to life any concepts you have in your head in minutes and the machinery are mind-blowing too. We don’t have such advantages in Nigeria.
For how long have you been in the market and what is the level of patronage so far?
This is a new product coming into the market for the first time from my side but I started out in 2009 with the concepts and design. I have just done a week Market survey and exhibition at Alaba International, Trade fair, Tejuosho Market, Apapa, and Olodi areas and the acceptance was very amazing. We have a ready Market waiting to consume the product.
From where you are now, what future do you see for the product?
I see a bright future for the product and lots of money to be made. I have another similar design that will be coming out after this one and am working on a wringer too. Perhaps, those that can’t squeeze might be interested in it.